In 2010 the Tea Party burst onto the political scene in amazing fashion. At that time the Democrat controlled House, Senate and White House was running rough shot over what the people clearly wanted — or didn't want. The Tea Party got its name from the Boston Tea Party. Both were in revolt to taxation or fiscal injustice. However just two years later it seems the Tea Party has lost its way, and that is mainly because it has a serious flaw.
The flaw of the Tea Party is putting preferences over principles.
While many in the Tea Party claim they are a principled group who want fiscal responsibility in government, this notion quickly comes to the test in the real world. My good friend, Mr. P. Henry, wrote about how Commissioner Switzer was essentially calling farmers "sissies" because ranchers and farmers couldn't take care of a task that their forefathers took for granted as part of the job. But the problem is much deeper. Whether one is talking about county funding for tourism, trapping or soil and water conservation — these are all preferences. There has yet to be a principled argument made why these (and several other items) should be paid for by government. If these items have real value, if they are indeed needed services, then those who benefit will surely pay for them out of their own pocket. But there is no principled reason why tax dollars collected from the general public should pay for them — only preferencial ones.
Many in the local Tea Party chapter are rural Americans who favor agriculture. That's great. The problem is when Tea Party members want government to fund "their" preferences. Tea Party people use the exact same arguments as the Left would use for funding a LGBT group (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transvestie). The Left would claim that LBTG people (their preference) are people too but need special help to overcome discrimination. In response the Tea Party would holler "No!". But really the Tea Party is hollering "No" not based on principle, but because the Left has a different preference than they do.
We need to return to a principled form of governance. Preferential governance leads to wild swings in policy. Moreover preferential governance sees money wasted on special project after special project because denying funding is not a matter of core beliefs but just a particular preference. Moreover, the longer one is in government the more that preferences grow and more and more special projects become acceptable.
Here are two simple principles Tea Party Patriots should be advocating their Klamath County Commissioners use when making spending decisions:
- Is the project in question required by statue or regulation? If yes, then it is a matter of how much to fund the particular project in order to meet the obligation, not a matter of whether or not to provide funding.
- Does the project in question directly benefit the entire county? For example, does spending county dollars on tourism directly benefit everyone in the county? The answer is, of course, no. Spending county dollars to promote tourism benefits those in the tourism industry. It does not benefit those outside that industry, yet those outside are funding that effort. Therefore tourism promotion should not be funded by government. Instead, tourism should be funded (if at all) by those who directly benefit and find the benefit outweighs the cost doing so.
So pick a favorite government program, and use these two questions to evaluate it. This is the only way to get government spending under control again in a fair and unbiased fashion. Remember: principle over preference.